Tuesday, October 17, 2017 | ePaper

Help kids cope with war, terror

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Life desk :
Any child with access to a smart phone or computer is potentially viewing rolling coverage of a world in crisis.
Many parents, particularly of school-aged children, are rightfully concerned about the emotional and mental wellbeing of those too young to understand what they should not have to.
Australia is a relatively peaceful, safe country, but globalisation coupled with entrenched ties with the US and UK are placing us in an increasingly precarious position.
Instead of being geographically isolated from overseas trauma, we are closer than we'd ever hoped to be.
Australia's current National Terrorism Threat Level is classified as probable.
The latest incident being potentially linked to terrorism is the Friday stabbing of a service station worker in Queanbeyan, NSW, by two teenagers who allegedly scrawled the letters "IS" in blood at the scene.
Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg says parents should choose their words carefully when explaining the mess our world is in.
A child's age and maturity level should determine mum or dad's response.
Dr Carr-Gregg says kids under five are too young to be exposed to horrible news, however, if a child does ask for more details or shows signs of being anxious, there are ways to put him or her at ease.
Follow the lead of the police, who confirm that our security arrangements are tight, Dr Carr-Gregg suggests. Reassure them that our Government is committed to keeping everyone safe and that terrorist attacks are not common in Australia.
Find out what kids already know about an incident - older children may also have been exposed to discussions in the classroom - and let this guide your response. Don't beat up an issue or add to any distress by divulging gruesome details.
To this I'd add: don't buy into nonsense being pedalled by some politicians that all Muslims are terrorists in training.
Approach things rationally and calmly. And if your child does want to watch news that is potentially distressing, try to be there to monitor how much they see or hear.
We do not have to ingest a diet of fear, tragedy and inhumane behaviour.
To a large degree, this is a choice we make as adults, but for children who are more vulnerable and less able to grasp what's going on, parents can't afford to let kids figure things out for themselves.
Adults must step in to restore their faith in the goodness of the world - yes, it still exists and you don't have to look far to see acts of kindness - and to preserve the precious innocence of childhood for as long as possible.
We need to raise a generation of resilient and capable young adults, and not feed the current milieu where one in four people under 24 are grappling with some form of anxiety or mental illness and where one in 10 Australians are popping anti-depressants.
Focusing on all that is right with the world is a good start.
When she was just 14, Princess Elizabeth, now Britain's longest-reigning monarch, took to BBC radio to address child refugees of war-torn Europe. As World War II separated families and uprooted people from their homes, sending them to settle in Britain and Australia, Elizabeth told the BBC's Children's Hour to remember that when the war was over "it will be for us, the children of today, to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place".
-news.com.au

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